If six months ago someone had told me a piece of furniture would be what finally convinced me to take strength training seriously, I probably would have gently suggested they get more sleep and lay off the martinis.
But a training rut earlier this year saw me quitting the gym (cossie livs, am I right?) and looking beyond tired YouTube videos for inspiration. I did not expect to find myself drawn to artificial intelligence, which at that point was at best a way to create amusing memes and at worst a threat to all our jobs, humanity, etc.
Clearly, however, I’m not talking about a revenge-hungry robot, nor one of those pretty benches that contains a multitude of weights or a bed that coverts into a squat rack (yes, really). Allow me to introduce you to fitness mirrors.
Also known as workout mirrors or smart mirrors, fitness mirrors are equal parts looking glass, interactive touchscreen and on-demand video training. And some (not all) use AI to offer a personalised training experience with real-time feedback. Yeah, the future’s here, people.
There are currently only a few types of fitness mirror available in the UK, and after some searching I settled on the MAGIC AI Mirror. Read on to find out exactly how it works, what I made of it, and how one could shake up your training.
What is the MAGIC Mirror?
At first glance the MAGIC fitness mirror looks like a sleek, albeit slightly thicker-than-usual, wall or leaning mirror. Look closely however, and at the top you’ll see a power button on the right and a camera in the centre.
‘The MAGIC AI Mirror is the UK’s first AI Home Gym that allows anyone to get personally trained by the world’s best athletes in their own home,’ says Co-founder & CEO Varun Bhanot.
‘When it’s switched off it’s a beautiful piece of furniture. When you turn it on, you see a hologram of a personal trainer who guides you through workouts, classes and programs with live real-time form feedback. As the surface is mirrored, you can check and compare your form to the trainer that is appearing in front of you — just like you might in a gym studio.’
What does the MAGIC Mirror do?
To put it as simply as possible, the Magic fitness mirror harnesses artificial intelligence to track your workouts in real time as you exercise in tandem with a personal trainer on the screen. You can see both yourself and the PT, so it’s easy to mirror your form to reflect that of the trainer’s.
‘Our AI integrated into the mirror corrects your real-time form, counts your reps as you do them and gives live feedback to give a completely hyper-personalised workout. It even tells you when to increase or decrease your weight based on your progress and form quality score,’ says Bhanot.
So what sets it apart from other fitness mirrors on the market? ‘Previous fitness mirrors are essentially just a TV inside a mirrored surface so ultimately don’t provide much more value than a YouTube video,’ says Bhanot. ‘We are focused on building what can actually replace a human personal trainer, a bit like how a self-driving car might replace us as drivers one day! It’s the same technology we have developed. The key for us is hyper-personalisation.’
MAGIC Mirror: My honest review
I have to admit I am buzzing the day two poor delivery men haul this up four flights of stairs to my flat (sorry lads). I opt for the MAGIC Pro package, which includes the mirror, adjustable dumbbells and a workout bench.
Setting it up
The MAGIC AI Mirror is incredibly easy to set up (and incidentally much more painless than quitting the gym) — you simply connect it to the WiFi then create an account with your email. The whole thing took me about three minutes.
You can add up to five user profiles and can separately control the volume of your PT and the in-built music — I turned it off most of the time as my gym playlist is frankly elite, and the offering is fairly basic.
In terms of space, the brand recommends allowing around four feet of space in front of the mirror, and if you’re leaning rather than wall-mounting (as I did), to rest it about 5cm away from the wall. The space I set up in, while it met these parameters, was tight, so I’d suggest a little more if you can swing it.
The user interface
The homepage of the mirror is populated with various classes, workouts and programs, and you navigate it simply by swiping and tapping — it’s kind of like a giant smartphone.
You can filter and sort everything by workout duration, difficulty, athlete and type (core, lower body, upper body or full body).
There are also sections categorised by athlete — an impressive roster including cricket legend Sir Alastair Cook, Strictly Come Dancing’s Katya Jones and Team GB’s Desiree Henry and Asha Philip have all contributed workout and advice content.
Right now the MAGIC Mirror’s offering is largely strength-training focused, with every class and workout I tried incorporating weights. The adjustable dumbbells that come with the Plus and Pro packages range from 2-32kg and are some of the best I’ve tried.
The Pro package also includes an adjustable workout bench (great for incline work like chest presses) complete with resistance bands inside. You could however easily use your own equipment if you already have it — just bear in mind that you’ll benefit most from having a range of weights (adjustable dumbbells are ideal if possible).
After a few false starts thanks to a knee injury (unfortunately something the AI personal trainers can’t help out with yet), I land on the ‘Strong Shell’ strength program instructed by PT Perry Mussington. Through an in-depth fitness assessment I recently discovered that strength is the area I need to work most on, and this four-week course promises to lay the foundations for a stronger, healthier body. Sign me up.
Before you start a class or workout the mirror tells you what equipment you’ll need, lists the exercises you’ll be doing and allows you to enter the weight you’ll be using for light, medium and heavy lifting (examples given are a single bicep curl, chest press and squat respectively). Then during the rest periods in your workout, the next exercise along with your suggested weight will appear on the mirror, so you can get ready.
You’re also instructed to position yourself within a certain space and the mirror scans you, picking up points on your body to use for tracking — kind of like when you see actors working on green screen with white pingpong balls all over them.
Onto the actual workouts: I never thought of myself as a stats-motivated type, but barely five minutes in I’m becoming strangely addicted to maxing out my form counter — the higher it climbs, the greater your form. I’m also surprised at how useful I find the automated rep counting, as it leaves me free to focus on the exercises — deadlifts, hammer curls, bear crawls, lateral raises, squat jumps and reverse lunges, to name just a few.
The mirror is very fast to correct form — I tested it by doing some moves wildly wrong and and reaction time was speedy as — and it offers useful tips, such as ‘get lower,’ ‘keep your back straight,’ and ‘keep your knees in line with your toes’ to ensure you’re maxing out that form dial. These both appear on-screen and are said out loud by the PT. It also notes drops in form that you’d think would be indiscernible; for example if I don’t squeeze my glutes at the top of a squat, despite being face-on to the mirror, my form points drop.
If you don’t complete a rep properly it won’t be counted, and only once you’ve taken on the advice on how to improve will it be deemed good enough. There’s also a ‘calories burned’ counter and an overall class score displayed during your workout, and you’re given overall stats once you finish.
I find having the trainer there on screen demonstrating the exercises super helpful, and see the benefit when I work hard to imitate him. Not all exercises are tracked, such as floor/core work, and you do have to count your own reps for these sections.
Over the weeks I find unparalleled joy in watching my form improve and seeing how heavy I can lift creep up. I can genuinely feel myself getting stronger, and I know its down to the sheer convenience of it — why wouldn’t I strength train three times a week when I can do it in my house with the help of an expert PT?
However, as with most AI this isn’t perfect — yet. The mirror occasionally records me moving equipment or picking my weights up as a ‘perfect’ rep, and I notice a big drop in the tracking capabilities, and consequently my form scores, with exercises that require more space than I have available — alternating side lunges, for example.
Sometimes the tracking drops out without warning too — again I think this is due to my space constraints, plus the fact that my background was pretty busy. If you can, set it up with plenty of room and in an uncluttered space.
- Live, genuinely useful feedback
- No excuses not to workout (you won’t want them anyway)
- Track your progress with easy-to-understand metrics
- A good range of workouts to keep things interesting
- Improve your form
- No one around to annoy/intimidate you (we’ve all been there)
- Motivation — both in terms of seeing your progress and the gamifying element as you workout
- It’s an investment — but the monthly cost is actually pretty affordable (currently just £27!)
- You need a decent amount of space
- Untracked exercises do leave you guessing a bit
- Tracking can drop out, particularly if you have a busy background or not much space
- Not ideal for injury rehab, which of course a real PT could assist with
- Would be great to see warm up and warm down classes added
MAGIC Mirror: The verdict
In the past nothing has ever driven me to work on strength training consistently. So of course, I’ve never seen proper results. That all changed with the MAGIC Mirror, and to say I love it would be an understatement. It’s helped me discover my strength, confidence in my form and true enjoyment through weight training.
It’s truly revolutionised my training in that I now feel secure bringing weights into my own workouts — even when I’m exercising without the mirror — and I’m continuing to see my strength improve, which is truly empowering.
I do wish it could work better in my shoebox of a flat (hello, Rightmove) and naturally it won’t ever replace the energy of an IRL group fitness class, nor the two-way interaction of a personal trainer relationship. But for in-the-zone strength training I actually now prefer using the MAGIC Mirror to hitting the gym floor. Because when was the last time you got encouraging feedback while you lifted?
How much is the MAGIC Mirror?
£1399 £999 — but before you roll your eyes and close this page, know that you can pay monthly! It’s currently priced at just £27 a month, which is cheaper than most gym memberships and certainly cheaper that the cost of an IRL personal trainer.
How to use the MAGIC Mirror
Think carefully about where you set up the mirror, ensuring you have enough space to workout (including floor work) and for the camera to pick you up. ‘Stand around three to four feet in front of the mirror during your workouts,’ advises Bhanot.
After that it really couldn’t be easier to use the MAGIC Mirror. Just follow the on-screen prompts, show up regularly and give it your all.
‘The MAGIC Mirror displays workout routines and instructions, and as users exercise, the ReflectAI camera that is embedded in the mirror tracks their movements and provides real-time feedback through the holographic display. The AI adapts the workout to each user’s fitness level and preferences. Users can navigate using the slick touchscreen on the mirror.’
Who is the MAGIC Mirror for?
The current workouts on the MAGIC Mirror serve a mixture of disciplines, whether you want to improve strength, speed, stamina or even fine-tune your footy skills.
‘It is designed for a broad range of users, including fitness enthusiasts, beginners, and individuals seeking a convenient and effective way to exercise at home,’ says Bhanot. ‘It caters to those who desire personalised, guided workouts. We have found it very popular with mums who value flexibility, busy professionals who may work hybrid lifestyles and value convenience as well as healthtech geeks too!’
What’s next for the MAGIC Mirror?
Strength training, while important, isn’t the only piece of the fitness puzzle, and you’ll be pleased to hear the team behind the MAGIC Mirror are working towards branching out into other areas.
‘We are focused on strength training at the present, and will be rolling out yoga, dance, boxing and pilates in the very near future all with AI-live form feedback and tracking so you can really nail your workout,’ says Bhanot. ‘We are also bringing on more athletes to coach and track you so it feels like you have a superstar in your living room coaching you one on one!’